As fans of The Walking Dead comic series know, Shane (Job Bernthal) has out-survived his comic counterpart by far. His survival has altered the direction of the Dead mythos from the comics and shaped the AMC series into something comic creator Robert Kirkman calls creatively fun for him.
"From the comic book standpoint, he's living on borrowed time, but the beauty of the show is that we can change things up," Kirkman tells TVGuide.com.
In the comics, Shane met his maker in Issue #6, before the survivors made it to the Greene farm. His presence on the farm in the television series lead to the early demise of farmhand Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince), who survived much longer in the graphic novels. "The storyline with Otis and all of the different things that are happening on the farm because of Shane's presence are a pretty clear indication that this guy is a pretty good catalyst for story," Kirkman says. "Watching him change how the stories were told in the comic book is a lot of fun for me."
Kirkman is hard-pressed to say Shane's eventual send-off will happen anytime soon. "I certainly don't feel like he's worn out his welcome just yet. The thought of seeing Shane interact with a possible future prison storyline and interacting with other things that happened in the comic book is absolutely super appealing for me."
While Kirkman is shy to say whether the infamous prison portion of the comic series will come sooner rather than later, he notes that the writers are not feeling pressure to rush the story forward, even if it means a delay in meeting fan-favorite character Michonne, a sword-wielding survivor first introduced at the prison.
"We haven't really rushed anything so far," he says. "It's not like this show needs a catalyst like Michonne to be thrown in early to excite people. The show is doing really well and I think people really dig it. We are taking our time with a lot of things. We will eventually get to Michonne. We've pretty much guaranteed that."
Kirkman is excited to introduce more characters who did not appear in the comic series, like Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Merle (Michael Rooker). "I can say that's definitely coming up," he says. "There's always going to be new characters from the comic popping in. Every now and then there will be someone original from the show. Whether they remain in the cast like a Daryl Dixon, or not really hang around like Morales (Juan Gabriel Pareja) or Jacqui (Jeryl Prescott), remains to be seen. There will be a lot of new characters entering the show and some will be from the comic and some will be original."
For now, the current survivors will deal with the fall-out of Shane's decision to sacrifice Otis to save not only his own life, but Carl's as well. "It's definitely something that's weighing on Shane," Kirkman says. "To a certain extent, having that kind of secret, hiding what he did to the guy, it's going to draw him away from the group and make him even more of an outsider. It's going to add a lot more conflict. It could directly alter his standing within the group."
Do you hope Shane sticks around for a while?
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.